SYDNEY, (Reuters) – England could go through the entire tour of Australia unbeaten according to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who scored a century to help the tourists grind out a draw against state side Victoria over the weekend.
England have won three and drawn three of their matches since they arrived in Perth at the end of October, including a comprehensive victory over Australia in Adelaide last week that gave them a 1-0 lead in the five-test Ashes series.
Wicketkeeper Prior, who struggled to get a bat in the first two Ashes tests thanks to the strong performance of England’s top order, said it was a run they were desperate to continue.
“If we carry on playing the brand of cricket we have been there’s no reason why we can’t go through the tour unbeaten,” Prior, who hit an unbeaten 102, told reporters.
“If we can manage to do that, it would be a fantastic feat — but something we’re certainly targeting.”
The England squad lost all five Ashes tests and two of their five tour matches on the 2006-07 trip Down Under and the importance of winning — or not losing — every game has been a key philosophy on this tour.
Prior admitted the last day of the three-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday had been “pretty boring” for fans but that it was important not to lose after being presented with an unlikely victory target of 311 runs.
“You can’t take for granted being on a good run. Sometimes you have to dig in and make sure you continue it,” added Prior, who arrives in Perth with the rest of the squad on Monday afternoon.
“You could go on playing your shots and potentially risk losing the game … we didn’t want to do that. We were hell bent we were going to get through the day.”
“Winning is a habit, and one you want to protect,” he added. “If we’d lost, we’d be very, very disappointed people.”
Another of the central concepts of the 2010-11 touring party has been that of stability but an abdomen injury to Stuart Broad has robbed them of the chance of putting out the same team for the third Ashes test.
The trio of seamers vying for the chance to replace him in the team for Perth failed to impress against Victoria — Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad taking just one wicket between them.
“This was not an easy wicket to get batsmen out,” reasoned Prior. “I don’t think any bowler was going to charge in and take a whole load.
“I thought all three of them bowled beautifully, didn’t let the batters score at a rate. They all did a very, very good job on a wicket that wasn’t helpful at all.
“They’ve all put their hands up, and I’m sure whoever gets selected will do a great job.”
The 6ft 7in (2.01m)- tall Tremlett is favoured to take Broad’s place in the England side on what is likely to be a quick wicket for the third test, which starts at the WACA on Thursday.